Childhood memories swirl in spring

Like a breaking floral wave, the locust blossoms frothed and foamed in the breeze, their inimitable fragrance beckoning bees whose humming was an audible drone.

In our back yard at home, when the grass stretched down the little grade to Yellow Creek, there were maybe six towering locust trees and when they were in flower, we children would have been foolish to go barefoot anywhere near. Bee stings were too painful.

Those trees are long gone, replaced by a blacktop parking lot. But I treasure a wonderful photograph of them. They crest above my then-young father who is bending toward my three ducks as they return home after a day of swimming.

And now, just this year, 35 years after I transplanted the spindly locust twig from Daddy’s yard to mine, there are blossoms in its crown. I stretch to pluck one, careful of the thorns, and cup it in my hand. I inhale its sweetness, and for a brief second, I am a child again.

June is many things to many people. June is Dairy Month to farm folks. For others, it is Catch Up Month — yard work, window screens, flower planting, vegetable planting. It is orange blossoms, roses, romance, graduations, weddings, strawberries.

It is iced tea, baby birds, baby rabbits, potato salad. It is my meadow lavishly spread with golden buttercups and it is Apache and Toby, at last shed of their winter coats, shining brightly in the sunlight.

Sadly, here at least, it is not goslings. On May 15, I could see with binoculars something not right at the nest site. Mother Goose was still on her nest, but there was something yellow at the water’s edge. I made myself walk down, and was really distressed to find a dead gosling on which there were no marks to indicate what had happened.

There were still two eggs in the nest and both geese were giving me hisses that suggested I should leave. So I did.

According to my calculations, the goslings should have all hatched on the 12th, and perhaps the dead one had and who knows what happened in the next day or so. I’ve judged this a young pair, and perhaps Father Goose may have mistaken the baby for a foe.

I have not gone back down to see what happened to the two remaining eggs. I don’t really want to know.

Both geese have now forsaken the nest area and hang out in the pasture, their black necks emerging like periscopes from the buttercups. They will molt before fall, so no doubt they will stay here all summer, driving Winnie crazy when they saunter past the barn door.

* * *

Dorin sent me a fun story from the Dallas Morning News about a domestic goose that joined crossing guards at an elementary school. When the guards stopped traffic, the goose stopped, too. When the children were ushered through the intersection, the goose walked with them.

He was fearless except for trucks, strange men and dogs, and waddled back to his pond when they appeared.

One day a woman walking past the pond saw “Sam” and thought he resembled a goose she had raised many years ago but who disappeared during a storm and was never found.

When she sat down by the pond, Sam immediately came to her and as she petted him, she realized he was her goose who had followed her grandson wherever he went. He would be 16 by now, and had been living just a mile away.

Sam continues to help the crossing guards.

Still about birds: The robin who had built her nest in the barberry hedge by the porch has apparently had second thoughts, as it is abandoned. I’m not about to rip my arm to shreds by invading the barbs to see if she left any eggs.

* * *

One extremely belligerent chipmunk has already been relocated, while a second, more peaceful, one is stuffing himself with the seeds from the maple “helicopters” that are covering everything. As long as he doesn’t bother the birds, he is welcome.

* * *

Surely it is just coincidence, but the John McCain-approved commercial with the grammatical error has been replaced. Maybe my chastising note to the Republican National Committee got someone’s attention.

* * *

Suzanne Miller-Hogue, a veterinarian in Farmdale, has sent me copies of articles in the Dec. 10, 1908, New York Tribune Farmer she found rolled up and stuffed between the cracks of the house they’re remodeling.

I’ll share some of the interesting articles with you over the summer.

* * *

It is hard to believe that Winnie has been here a year as of May 17! She is such a joy and I can’t imagine being without her. Neither can my dear old cat, Lisa, and we are one big happy family.

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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